Barbadians are being encouraged to “take ownership” of the annual Crop Over Festival.
This was the general sentiment of addresses delivered by three of the featured speakers during the First Citizens Crop Over City Fest’s Official Ceremony and Delivery of the Last Canes yesterday. The occasion also marked the 5th anniversary of Bridgetown and its Garrison’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In her remarks, Chairman of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Maureen Graham told the large gathering in Heroes’ Square, The City that it is the responsibility of each Barbadian to sustain the yearly festival. She also called on everyone to remember that “‘Dis is We Ting!’ and it depends on all of us.”
“It is not just the responsibility of a few, like the NCF for example, to maintain it. [I] agree the Foundation is charged with the production and preservation of the Festival, but we all need to feel a coveted sense of belonging. Crop Over belongs to all of us. ‘Dis is We Ting!’ – our traditions, beliefs, customs, stories passed down from generation to generation. Remembering our stories and the circumstances that have altered our very existence should always remain in our consciousness, but especially during this Season of Emancipation.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley noted that “the job of protecting the image of this Festival’s brand is not just the responsibility of its gatekeepers, but in this age of social media, it is also that of every one of us.” He additionally expressed a hope that in Barbados’ 50th year of Independence, locals would “all understand the true significance of growing and protecting our Festival”.
Adding her voice to the mix, Senior Manager, Retail Banking & Central Services with First Citizens Bank, Beverley Prescod used the occasion of the official launch of the 2016 Festival to “encourage every business, small or large, and every Barbadian to champion the arts and culture in our country and to pass it on as a legacy to the next generation.”
During the official proceedings members of the public witnessed a large street parade comprising performers including: Shaggy Bears, Mother Sally, green monkeys, stilt walkers, members of the Barbados Cheerleading Federation, members of the Barbados Landship Association and members of Dancin’ Africa. This parade begun at the Barbados Post Office and culminated in Heroes’ Square.
In the Square, the Blessing of the Canes was done by the Sons of God Apostolic Church. There were also cultural presentations in dance and music. The evening’s proceedings came to an end with a sunset concert titled, ‘Legends and Legacies: The Evolution of Bajan Music’.
This year, five Crop Over stalwarts were awarded honours. These were Charles Odell, Judy Thomas, Lusca Compton-Joseph, Roslyn Watson and John Watson. Judy Cumberbatch and Grantley Hurley were once again crowned the King and Queen of the Crop. This is their 14 and 15 years, respectively, winning this title.